Simrad RS40-B, the first VHF radio with AIS transceiver

Ben Stein

Ben Stein

Publisher of, passionate marine electronics enthusiast, 100-ton USCG master.

16 Responses

  1. Grant Jenkins says:

    Nice in-depth review, Ben.
    Though I haven’t tested this radio as you did, I have held the microphone on display, that you described as feeling “good in the hand…” I suppose this is subjective, but to me it felt just the opposite – and the awkward-looking appearance and mount is obviously from the marketing department, not the engineering folks. Sorry, but the mike alone makes this a non-starter for me…

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      Definitely subjective. The hang up device for the mic isn’t as fast as the traditional button, but I really like that it holds the mic in the proper orientation. As you can see in the photos the mic is installed so that the cord is pulling the bottom to the left, with a button mount the mic would always sit a little crooked, with the hanger Simrad uses it stays in the proper orientation. Plus, I find the button layout really good, with the mic mounted on the dash I can easily reach forward (it’s just above and left of the steering wheel so very convenient to reach out and use the mic’s buttons) and adjust volume or channels.

      These factors cause me to describe it favorably. I certainly understand you might have a different conclusion if your mounting and usage are different.

      -Ben S.

  2. Orin Guidry says:

    Does anyone know if the transceiver will be added to the RS90S black box which currently only has an AIS receiver!

  3. AndreM says:

    So they beat Vesper to the punch?
    But I’ll wait for the Vesper. Compared to the Cortex, this seems more like a tack-on product, rather than innovation. Maybe. That said, I’m glad others are getting into the fray.

  4. Peter D Coburn says:

    Ben, Thanks for this posting, which I found very interesting.

    I have the RS-40 and would be thinking about adding the NAIS 500 Transceiver. Would this require a separate VHF antenna? I also note that AMEC and other manufacturers offer the AIS Class B transceiver for a lot less than $720. AMEC, for example, has one for $420. Is it worth staying in the same family of products? Aria has a B&G MFD in addition to the RS-40 VHF.

    Any comments would be appreciated!


    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Good to hear from you, Peter. AIS is one area where staying with the same brand doesn’t usually benefit you much. And, yes, you will need either a second antenna or an AIS/VHF splitter, with the latter probably preferable on a sailboat like Aria. I suspect your best bet is a Class B CS model with a splitter built in, and I’d look hard at the latest 92x series from Em-Trak discussed at the end of this entry:

      I also recommend working with Milltech Marine. They are specialists who sell AMEC, Em-Trak and many other AIS brands at fair prices and can advise you expertly:

  5. Peter Coburn says:

    Addition to my previous comment:


    I note that to add a splitter to the NAIS-500 Class B Transponder costs an additional $249, putting the cost for NAIS-500 plus splitter up to just under $1000. So if the AMEC’s are any good, this would seem the right way to go. Comments?

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Sorry, Peter, just saw this second comment, but it seems like we’re on the same page. Yes, the Camino should work fine for you, and there are some other choices close to that sale price at Milltech.

  6. Bill Coleman says:

    Thanks for doing this. I have been excited about this concept ever since Standard Horizon came out with theirs, (almost) and have been checking a few times a year to see if they have ever gotten it through approval. This one appears to be a VHF and AIS just crammed into a single box. With some interface, of course. Even tho I have all B&G on board, (not my choice), I am not sure I am ready to jump on this yet. I hate to keep waiting for the next best thing, B/C it seems to be a good way to wait your life away. But I think I will. Maybe this will encourage one of the real radio makers to jump out there. Also, I appreciate your High Def Pictures.

  7. Lance Berc Lance Berc says:

    I’ve used one of these and it works as advertised. Such a good idea! Almost purchased one for a retrofit project (AIS is such a good idea) until I saw it doesn’t have an integrated splitter which makes it a non-starter. The FCC regulations/testing must be very tough.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:


      I definitely agree that the lack of an onboard splitter is really unfortunate. I suppose the thought process may have been focused on giving you the best possible performance by not requiring the use of a splitter. But if they could have found a way to split by default and offer separate connections, perhaps that would have been the best of both worlds.

      -Ben S.

  8. Cameron says:

    I have just purchased the RS40B unit for my 6.7 fishing boat. And will be installed in a few months time.

    Does this unit accept the newer AIS frequency bands (AIS 3 and AIS 4)?

    Will this single antenna (P6102 – Pacific Aerials) be able to accomodate all 4 x AIS frequencies with the use of an external splitter?


  9. Christopher says:

    Ben I have been using proAIS2 program for over 2 years to program Em-Trak devices and there is already Long range broadcast function, my Class B+ AIS is received by satellites.
    Isn’t this already a function that uses the next 2 channels?
    Excerpt from the proAIS2 manual::
    Long range broadcast:
    This setting enables/disables the transmission of Message 27, used for long range detection. It’s transmitted on a different channel (frequency) and typically received by satellites. This proAIS2 feature is supported by Class B SO products only.

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *